BURLINGTON, Vt. - Nearly four years after being drafted by the Bruins in the first round of the NHL Draft, Zach Senyshyn finally got his chance with the big club last spring. And while it was only a brief two-game stint during the final week of the regular season, the 22-year-old winger has every intention of using that experience as he pushes for a permanent roster spot this fall.
"It's definitely lit a fire under me," Senyshyn said during Day 3 of the Bruins' annual Fan Fest Tour on Sunday at the University of Vermont. "When you get a taste of it and how close it really is, you definitely get really excited for the upcoming season. For my summer training, it's made me a lot more passionate and really excited for the upcoming year."
During his NHL debut in Minnesota in April, the Ottawa native played just under 13 minutes, notching four shots on goal and his first career goal - an empty-netter late in the third period. Senyshyn, who also played 10:30 in the regular-season finale against Tampa, has 16 goals and 50 points in 132 career games with Providence over the last two seasons.
"Used it for a little bit of confidence and a little bit to see what those [veteran] guys were doing up there and how they're able to approach every day and their work ethic," said Senyshyn, who joined fellow Bruins forward prospect Trent Frederic for the first leg of the Fan Fest Tour across Northern New England.
"It was really a treat to be able to be a part of. I'm looking forward to hopefully being full time with them this year…[I'm] just going to worry about my own game and really be confident out there, know what I do well and play into my strengths."
Video: Senyshyn chats about upcoming season at Fan Fest
Frederic, meanwhile, got a more extensive look last season, suiting up for 15 NHL games over three stints with Boston. Playing mostly as the B's third-line center, the 21-year-old did not register a point, but gained valuable experience, some of which came from simply being around the team during its run to the Stanley Cup Final.
The St. Louis native - along with Senyshyn and the rest of the Black Aces - was with the Bruins throughout the postseason, and while he didn't make it into a game, he is hoping to carry all that he learned into his second full professional season.
"The playoffs were a great experience," said Frederic, who has 19 goals and 33 points in 68 games for Providence over the last two seasons. "It's bitter with the last game, but we have a great team and I think we have a chance to take a run at it again.
"I'm just excited to get going. I've been working hard and just ready to get this all started…I've been training back home, took a little break and then went back at it. I feel really good."
While roster spots may be limited as the Bruins return much of the roster that got them to within a game of the Stanley Cup, head coach Bruce Cassidy is looking forward to evaluating the progress of Frederic, Senyshyn, and the rest of Boston's young players during training camp.
"They both got a look last year - obviously Trent got a longer one," said Cassidy, "so they have a bit of an idea of what's required. I think that always helps. Most guys on their second call-up do a little bit better because they're a little bit more prepared for what they need to do. I assume those two will be no different.
"As for our other young guys, we want internal competition and if they can push our veteran group, it's gonna make us that much better. That's what we're hoping for."
Video: Frederic goes 1-on-1 at Fan Fest in Portland, Maine
After playing until Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, the Bruins' offseason has certainly been condensed, leaving far less time than usual for recovery and training. Given the extra wear and tear of a lengthy postseason, as well as the inevitable hangover that comes with a loss in the Final, Cassidy knows that the early weeks of the 2019-20 season are likely to be a challenge.
"I think teams tend to start slow because of that," Cassidy said over the weekend during the team's annual Fan Fest Tour. "You're not out of that mental drain of a long playoff run. We've asked around a little bit about how to get through that, predominantly with our veteran guys that went through it in  and . We've been there, the core group, so we'll lean on them to make sure we get off to a good start."
Video: Cassidy looks ahead to camp during Day 2 of Fan Fest
On the Mend
Like several of his players, Cassidy has been rehabbing for much of the summer following a procedure on his knee in late June. Boston's bench boss said he is progressing well and was back on the golf course last week for the first time since the surgery.
"I've been doing a lot of physiotherapy, trying to stay busy, family stuff, vacations here and there. And that's about it right now," said Cassidy. "Starting to prepare for next year now, going through the schedule for training camp, tinkering with some lines with the other coaches. But for the most part, just getting away from the game for a while and enjoying some good weather."
With training camp just three weeks away, however, Cassidy is itching to get back on the ice.
"I'm excited. I love to coach, I love my job, I love being around the guys, being at the rink," said Cassidy. "Don't get me wrong, it's nice to get away in the summer, but I'm ready to go."
Video: Cassidy goes mic'd up during Day 2 of Fan Fest